Andy McKay

Sep 14, 2011

User groups and you

At the Mozilla webdev meetup we discussed recruiting. I specifically brought up the point that I think user groups or meetups (or whatever you'd like to call them) are great for recruiting. If you are a Mozillian and especially a remote one, I really hope you get the chance to go to a meetup or user group in your area. Here's why:

  • A chance to learn new things. Obviously the main reason for attending such an event. I've attended the Vancouver Python and Django user groups for a while now and always learn new stuff.
  • A chance to make geeky new friends. Remote work can be rather isolating. This is a good chance to go speak to other geeks about interesting stuff. You might even make new friends.
  • All those soft skills? You can improve those too, being able to communicate is an important skill.
  • Learn how to give talks, or test talks out. Before a conference, I try to give a talk at a user group and inflict it on them first and get some real feedback. Having a friendly user group is a great supportive environment for doing that.
  • Recruiting, duh.
  • Talking to the open source community and interacting is what Mozilla is about.

Once you've been to a couple of user groups, the next thing you might want to see is if the user group needs help. Normally a user group needs: somewhere to meet, a projector or something people can see, maybe liquid and food refreshments and someone to organise it. Mozilla can help out on some of these points.

I'm lucky because I live in Vancouver so have facilities of the Vancouver office at my disposal. For many years the Python user group used to be at ActiveState and then had several years of wandering around different offices and buildings throughout Vancouver, but it survived. Now we are using the Mozilla Vancouver office. But finding that space was always the biggest challenge. If you've got a space where you can have people come, that's a great help.

Mozilla will also help support limited things like beer and pizza for the meetup, but you should check with your manager before you start expensing that.

Next post, I'll discuss tips for organisers because the Vancouver Python meetup is about to start.